Wet April cause for concern

Wet April Cause for Concern

Flooding in Sarrot on Friday was just the beginning. There were reports of the effect of rain in Bexon, Soufriere and Castries. (Photo by Bill Mortley)

With the effects of Hurricane Tomas still very much visible across the island and the impact still fresh in many minds the unusual heavy downpour over the past few days here has been cause for concern.
The heavy rainfall is coming in the middle of what is supposed to be the dry period and a period which saw Saint Lucia ironically in 2010 experiencing one of the worst droughts in years. Added to that—this is coming just a little more than a month away from the start of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season on June 1.
According to Thomas Auguste, St Lucia’s director of meteorological services, there is no weather system of note affecting Saint Lucia, however, the rainfall for April 2011 is more than just unusual.
“In fact it is the highest we have on record since we have been collecting this sort of information from 1973,” Auguste told the STAR.
The total rainfall recorded at Hewannora in Vieux Fort so far for April as of yesterday April 29 is 354.4mm, while George FL Charles in Castries has so far recorded 237.1 mm. The second highest on record at Hewannora was in April 1981 when 291mm was recorded whilst in that same year George FL Charles recorded 337.8mm.
“Just to put in perspective, the average rainfall for April since 1973 is 66mm for Vieux Fort and 72mm for Vigie so this month so far is five times the average,” Auguste said while urging residents to pay attention to the heavy rainfall and its possible effects. “What we are saying is that following hurricane Tomas, a number of slopes are still very unstable and this kind of rainfall and saturation can cause landslides, so persons need to take precaution,” Auguste cautioned.
While the rain was expected to continue across the island Friday, the Met Office here says gradual improvement is expected in weather conditions over the weekend.
The Director of Red Cross Hubert Pierre told the STAR Friday, that although his office had not received any calls reporting any damage as of Friday morning, if the rain continued it would be cause for concern.
“Of particular interest would be the areas of Bexon and Millet where the heavy siltation of the rivers in those areas following Tomas is still very much an issue. So we are asking all Saint Lucians and in particular persons in low lying areas and near rivers, to take every necessary precaution,” Pierre says.
The heavy rainfall over the past three days has caused some minor floods in the areas around Saint Lucia generally prone to flooding, including the city of Castries itself. The effect of the weather took a turn for the worst yesterday as cries on the radio stations came from people in the Bexon area who had to evacuate. The STAR also received news of people in Fond St Jacques seeking refuge elsewhere. The police too sent out a notice asking drivers to use the Sarrot Road instead of the Bexon Road since the Bexon River had overflowed its banks. People were asked to drive carefully. Already the rainfall and subsequent weather has caused the organizers of Jazz in the South to cancel their first event at Coconut Bay today Saturday April 30. With the Jazz festival now underway the weather will no doubt be an issue for which organizers, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board will be busy making contingency plans. In 2004 heavy rainfall forced the cancellation of a performance.
April has been described as pretty unusual during the second week of the month unseasonable heavy rains caused some damage across some eastern Caribbean islands particularly St Vincent, Barbados and Grenada. An active hurricane season is also predicted for the region in 2011.

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